Vienna, 18 October 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Hungary and Austria moving further closer"


Agreement on facilitation of tourist traffic between Austria and Hungary adopted

Vienna, 18 October 2006 - "Today Austria and Hungary have moved another bit closer," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik following the adoption by the Austrian Federal Government of the agreement between Austria and Hungary on border crossing via tourist routes along the common border.

"Today's adoption of the agreement has symbolic characters: 50 years ago hundreds of thousands of Hungarian refugees fled Soviet tanks and crossed the border to Austria. 1989 saw the first lifting of the Iron Curtain along the Austrian-Hungarian border. The agreement adopted by the Federal Government today will further open this common border. Among other things, the Sankt Margarethen / Fertrákos border crossing point, where the Pan-European Picnic was held in August 1989 - then the start signal for the fall of the Iron Curtain, will be opened".

"By facilitating tourist traffic in specific ways, the European peace project can be experienced by the citizens of Europe in their everyday lives," said Plassnik. Six border crossing points will be opened in a first round, followed by further points once empirical data have been obtained. In the interest of promoting soft tourism, the new border crossings will be open to cyclists, pedestrians and people with horses only. The agreement opens up the possibility of crossing the border on certain hiking and cycling routes, provided a valid travel document is taken along.

"The agreement adopted today is another step towards a situation where the only place for the story of the division of Europe is in the museum," concluded the Foreign Minister.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213